Responsibility over Patriotism

Taresh Gupta
Recently, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of our Independence Day and a question kept striking my mind, as to whether I am proud of being an Indian or not. The fact is that neither I nor anyone else can take any personal credit for being born as an Indian citizen. There is a certain national pride that everyone passively absorbs growing in India. Be it in our schools, where we are made to sing the national anthem or be it our cricket matches, or the three days of great national significance which we celebrate as national holidays every year. This awareness of our national history, heritage and culture makes us feel patriotic to a certain extent, that too occasionally.  This half hearted patriotism still thrives as some of us still have the patience and time to watch some glimpses of our national parade and exhibitions, fill up cricket stadiums whenever India is playing and whenever anyone from the Indian Diaspora occupies the top post in an MNC, our chests swell with pride. But the question is, whether all this translates into patriotism?
What is being witnessed in today’s India is that national pride is making some of us blind to our nation’s deficiencies and to exaggerate our strengths. For our country to make progress, we must let go off this national pride and replace it with national responsibility. For those of us who want to express how patriotic we are, we must first realize that being born in India has placed upon us a crucial responsibility of being an ambassador and inheritor of everything the idea of India encompasses. We, living our daily lives are shaping what India is, all the time. The idea of India, as mentioned in our Constitution encompasses the values of Equality, Fraternity, Liberty and Justice, and the idea surely does not give more importance to any one particular region or religion. This has to be kept in mind. Thus, the national responsibility that we must shoulder also includes our acknowledgment of the negative aspects of our history and culture and also to accept and address our nation’s present shortcomings.
Today, we must acknowledge that more than patriotism, we need objectivity and an unbiased attitude towards all policies and schemes brought out by our Governments, both at the Centre and at the State levels, so we can objectively analyze their merits and demerits. We need to teach ourselves that our nation is not about one person at the Centre, who is making the nation run perfectly or would do so, once the entire country is painted in one colour. The life and existence of our country’s social fabric is much more precious than the life of a particular leader or his party.  Ours is a democracy where we also need an opposition in the House to provide adequate checks and balances to the actions of the ruling party. This opposition is eroding.
The Gorakhpur hospital tragedy, girl stalking case in Chandigarh and the cases of mob lynching are all the headlines we got to read a few days before our Independence Day. All these clearly indicate as to how we are failing as a society. The dismal condition of social infrastructure here further aggravates the future of these people. It is clearly an administrative failure and we ought to come out of this failure until it gets too late.
So this year, let us translate our patriotism into national responsibility. Apart from enjoying the extended weekends we get on our national holidays, let us also introspect as to whether we are being responsible as a citizen. Along with teaching national songs to our children and making them turnout in traditional outfits, let us teach them the meaning and essence of India and the value of its diversity as well. Let us also teach them what our founding fathers like Gandhi and Nehru stood for along with painting their faces for their school functions.  Apart from following our religion, let us also learn the difference between being proud of one’s religion and being chauvinistic about it, and hence help preserve the socio-cultural fabric of our country. Let us not lose our objectivity and rationality by being mesmerized merely by the oratory skills of our leaders. Let us carefully and sensibly understand and solve some of the problems our state is facing. Let us all as a nation, evolve.
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